November 24, 2018

At the Saturday Night Cafe...

... talk about what you want.

I know... the axe...

... don't rub it in.

"Police have used teargas and water cannon against fuel tax protesters in Paris after violent clashes erupted on the Champs Élysées."

"Thousands of demonstrators from all over France massed on the famous boulevard on Saturday to express their anger at the French president, Emmanuel Macron, and his government. But what was supposed to be a peaceful protest by the gilets jaunes (yellow jackets) movement degenerated rapidly. On one side, protesters reportedly infiltrated by far-right extremists and casseurs (rioters and hooligans) tore up paving stones and hurled them and other missiles at police before building barricades that they set alight. On the other, police used teargas, pepper spray, water cannon and bulldozers to clear the road...."

The Guardian reports.

"The fact that California delegates could be up for grabs even before Iowa’s caucuses begin has been a frequent topic of discussion among some Kamala Harris supporters..."

"... and Texas’s early potential delegate haul has not been lost on those trying to push Beto O’Rourke into the race. Ahead of a nationwide contest that could come down to a delegate-counting exercise simply because of the sheer number of potential candidates, the thinking goes, any marginal advantage counts. 'It won’t stop candidates from doing all the early state stuff, but it changes the calculus overall,' says one Democratic fundraiser aligned with Harris, who’s spoken with national strategists how the calendar shift will play out. 'It changes where you put your resources.'"

From "How Early Voting Could Turn the Democratic 2020 Race on Its Head" (NY Magazine).

A fashion model who was discovered at age 66, playing accordian in a restaurant.

"My mind is blown that 'helping' people under 40 STOP, and disconnect, is big business."

"Of course, I was not raised by guilty-narcissistic-lunatic helicopter parents, who ensured that their children remained helpless, clueless, UN-grounded suckers for the Mega-Technology Hucksters. I also did NOT have to be hoverlingly 'protected' from climbing up and falling over railings or drinking bleach or Drano, because I had NO INTEREST in offing myself, even at age 3. I wonder if the younger generation subconsciously Sees What's Coming (sea level rising WAY more than 'predicted') and possible species extinction (ours). Who will now 'protect them' from THAT, since their actual self-sufficiency quotient appears to be minus 10. This entire society has gone seriously bonkers."

A comment from HistoryWatcher on the WaPo article "Two Harvard guys based their million-dollar business on a whole lot of nothing." The business is Getaway — rentable tiny houses in the woods, with no amenities.
They cluster the tiny houses in groups of 20 or so on leased woodland, just outside major cities. Each outpost has a long-term lease on private land. Cabins are spaced 200 feet from one another, allowing sufficient privacy.... For $100 to $200 a night, you get running water, a shower, a stove, a small fridge, a clean bed, a toilet and a big window....
This is like camping for people who need a little more security and bathroom access than you get in, say, a tent at a state park campsite. The landscape doesn't sound very interesting, so maybe it's good for people who mostly want to stay indoors — perhaps to read, write, or have sex — and look out a big window at trees.

"She takes pills for three months, the pills make her unbelievably obtuse, and the obtuseness then defines itself as mental health! It’s like blindness defining itself as vision. 'Now that I’m blind, I can see there’s nothing to see.'"

I've been reading "The Corrections" by Jonathan Franzen.

"Yes, many video games are violent and frivolous, and the most devoted players still tend to be young and male."

"But the best games reveal a mass cultural medium that has come fully into its own, artistically flourishing in ways that resemble the movie industry during its 20th-century peak and television over the past 20 years. From 'The Searchers' to 'The Godfather,' from 'The Sopranos' to 'The Americans,' what connects these eras, and their most outstanding works, is a shared ambition, a desire to be both grand and granular, telling individual stories against the backdrop of national and cultural identity, deconstructing their genres while advancing the form."

That sounds so right wing! Except the "deconstructing" part.

From "Red Dead Redemption 2 Is True Art/The season’s best blockbuster isn’t a TV show or movie. It’s a video game" by Peter Suderman in The New York Times.

The other day, I tried to watch this video, "Red Dead Redemption 2: 13 Things We Love About It (And 8 Things We Don't)"...

... but I had to stop because the enthusiasm of the players was just too... I don’t want to say annoying... but just irrelevant to my life.

I first encountered that video not at the NYT but at "South Park: All the Red Dead Redemption 2 References," which I was reading because someone I know told me he was playing Red Dead Redemption 2 and the only thing I knew about it was it was the game everyone in South Park was playing when Al Gore was trying to get them interested in fighting global warming.

Throwed rolls.

I learned about the throwed rolls at Lambert's Cafe...

... from the Oxford English Dictionary, which has this in the sidebar today:
"Throwed" — unless you're talking about "throwed silk" — is "colloq. or nonstandard," the past tense of "throw," and one of the quotations selected by the OED is:
1995 Midwest Living Apr. 185/1 Fun family restaurant and home of ‘throwed rolls’ (for laughs, owner Norm Lambert tosses warm dinner rolls around the cafe to customers).
The oldest published use of the word the OED found is:
1861 H. M. G. Smythies Daily Governess I. xiii. 113 He was a selfish brute, and she a throwed-away angel.

"Why did a little kid have to shoot me today? His high-pitched voice still lingers in my head."

From "American missionary killed on remote Indian island wrote that God was protecting him" (LA Times).
"God sheltered me and camouflaged me against the coast guard and the navy," John Allen Chau wrote before he was killed last week on North Sentinel Island.

Indian ships monitor the waters around the island in the Bay of Bengal, trying to ensure that outsiders do not go near the Sentinelese, who have repeatedly — and forcefully — made clear they want to be left alone....

"I DON'T WANT TO DIE," wrote [John Allen] Chau, 26, who apparently wanted to bring Christianity to the islanders. "Would it be wiser to leave and let someone else to continue. No I don't think so."
It would be wiser to leave people alone who want to be left alone, but I presume he felt quite strongly that God was asking him to do otherwise.

ADDED: Much better detail at the NYT article. Excerpt:
Mr. Chau... took a careful selection of gifts: scissors, safety pins, fishing line and a soccer ball. But the people seemed variously amused, hostile and perplexed by his presence, he wrote. He described a man wearing a white crown possibly made of flowers taking a “leadership stance” by standing atop the tallest coral rock on the beach.

The man yelled, and Mr. Chau tried to respond, singing some worship songs and yelling back something in Xhosa.... “They would often fall silent after this,” he wrote. Other efforts to communicate with tribe members ended with their bursting out in laughter.

Encounters became more fraught. When Mr. Chau tried to hand over fish and a bundle of gifts, a boy shot an arrow “directly into my Bible which I was holding.” “I grabbed the arrow shaft as it broke in my Bible and felt the arrow head,” he said. “It was metal, thin but very sharp.”...

“It’s weird — actually no, it’s natural: I’m scared,” Mr. Chau wrote. “There, I said it. Also frustrated and uncertain — is it worth me going a foot to meet them?”...... “Please do not be angry at them or at God if I get killed,” he wrote. “I love you all.”

"Stars are suddenly dressing like flamingos."

Feathery photos at Page Six.

IN THE COMMENTS: Rick Turley reminds us of the "lesser known Manfred Mann song":

Lesser known but still probably the third most well known Manfred Mann. The only 2 that beat it are "Do Wah Diddy Diddy" and (the Dylan cover) "Mighty Quinn." Here's just a little something extra, because I looked up the lyrics to "Mighty Quinn" at the Genius lyrics-annotating site (click to enlarge and clarify):

Where's the seat belt?

"The robotic hotel room on wheels - is this the future of travel? Self-driving suite can ferry guests from place to place - and drones deliver room service through the sunroof/Toronto-based Aprilli Design Studio has designed a hotel suite housed within a self-driving vehicle/Renderings reveal how the battery-powered hotel-room-on-wheels includes a double bed and shower room/The vehicle's designers note that travellers would simply specify the route they wanted to take via an app" (Daily Mail).

I think the future of travel is more likely to be you stay in your stationary room-pod where you live and all the travel destinations of the world are brought to you instantly by virtual reality technology. But, sure, a drone brings you "room service"... to the room you never leave.

"Nearly half [of Americans] say they sometimes or always feel alone or 'left out.' Thirteen percent of Americans say that zero people know them well."

Writes Arthur C. Brooks, the president of the American Enterprise Instituted in "How Loneliness Is Tearing America Apart/When people have a hole in their life, they often fill it with angry politics" (NYT)(citing a "large-scale survey from the health-care provider Cigna). Much of this op-ed column is drawn from the book "Them: Why We Hate Each Other — and How to Heal" by Senator Ben Sasse.
A précis of Mr. Sasse’s recommendations to America... might be this: Go where you get that hometown-gym-on-a-Friday-night feeling, put down roots and make plans to fertilize the soil.
fertilize the soil = have a cemetery plot.
That can be a tricky proposition for many of us... I have no Fremont [Nebraska, like Sasse] — not even Seattle, my hometown, which is a perfectly nice place, but one I unsentimentally left behind 35 years ago....  Is a thick community and the happiness it brings out of reach for rootless cosmopolitans like us?
He asked Sasse, who told him all he needed was "to intentionally invest in the places where we actually live." Easy for him to say! He's got Fremont, Nebraska. But Brooks accepts the facile prescription and ends:
Each of us can be happier, and America will start to heal, when we become the kind neighbors and generous friends we wish we had.
Yeah, do that.

November 23, 2018

"Bob? Bob? Where's Bob?"

"I think Europe needs to get a handle on migration because that is what lit the flame," said Hillary Clinton.

"'I admire the very generous and compassionate approaches that were taken particularly by leaders like Angela Merkel, but I think it is fair to say Europe has done its part, and must send a very clear message — we are not going to be able to continue provide refuge and support — because if we don’t deal with the migration issue it will continue to roil the body politic,' she said.... Mrs. Clinton’s remarks to The Guardian drew criticism and a dose of surprise from an array of scholars, pro-immigration advocates and pundits on both the left and right, some of whom were so perplexed by the comments that they wondered aloud whether Mrs. Clinton had perhaps misspoken. Mrs. Clinton, many said, has a long history of supporting refugees — a track record seemingly at odds with her recent remarks. Her immigration platform in the 2016 presidential election boasted that 'we embrace immigrants, not denigrate them.'"

The NYT reports.

Doesn't this make Hillary a racist — according to the logic of the Democratic Party?

Maybe this is the idea: It is racist, but there are so many racists, that if the less-racist party does not appeal to racists, the more-racist party will win, so it's crucial for progressive parties in Europe and the Democratic Party in the United States to be racist enough to defeat the more virulent racists. It's not racism for the sake of racism, but a pragmatic use of racism as a means to an end that is not racism at all. Some people are just cruel, but the good people have to be cruel to be kind.

"Indeed, Mrs. Clinton’s assessment represented a stark reminder of the sort of politics she and her husband were long identified with: pragmatic and canny in the view of moderates but, to progressives, nothing less than craven accommodation to the nationalism she purportedly wants to tame."

The Clintons. Ever Clintonian.

"A Wisconsin legislator who is also a firefighter ripped the state Department of Natural Resources for persuading his department to rescue a deer stranded on a frozen lake...."

"Republican Rep. Adam Jarchow... said he would fire the [DNR] warden tomorrow if he could for 'being complicit in putting firefighters at risk, over a stupid deer.'... 'This is a complete embarrassment and a joke,' tweeted Jarchow.... The DNR posted a glowing statement about the incident on its website Tuesday. The release praised Warden Jesse Ashton for organizing a team of wardens and local firefighters to rescue the deer, saying, 'Those little hooves are no match for slick surfaces!... Teamwork strikes again!'"

From "Lawmaker rips DNR for getting firefighters to rescue 'stupid deer' stranded on frozen lake" (Wisconsin State Journal).

The deer had wandered 500 yards out onto the frozen lake and ought to have been left to its own devices, I suspect, but the DNR may be worried about the deer-loving citizens who caused the department so much angst a few years ago in the heart-rending Giggles the fawn incident.

"Jiang Jinfu has bravely admitted domestic violence, facing the problem directly. He’s a good man. Support, encourage, applaud. This is not easy."

From "A Chinese Actor Admits Hitting a Woman — and Some Take His Side" (NYT).
“No matter what the reason is, I should not have raised my hand,” Mr. Jiang wrote on Monday, hours after Ms. Nakaura posted the photos of herself and suggested that he was responsible. Many Chinese internet users roundly condemned Mr. Jiang. But others said he had been brave to admit what he had done....

“Some people say there’s no excuse for beating someone like that, but if what this woman did was true, doesn’t she deserve it?” said one commenter on Weibo, the Chinese microblogging platform.... Little is known about the circumstances of the beating....

Before deleting her Instagram account this week, Ms. Nakaura addressed Mr. Jiang and dismissed his apology. “If you really wanted to apologize, you would apologize to me directly and not through Weibo,” she said. She also said he had caused her to miscarry....

The ABC executive who said "Roseanne’s Twitter statement is abhorrent, repugnant and inconsistent with our values, and we have decided to cancel her show" is now leaving ABC.

I'm reading "Channing Dungey, First Black Entertainment Executive at a Major Network, Is Leaving ABC" (NYT).
Ms. Dungey was thrust into the spotlight earlier this year — an unusual spot for the publicity-shy executive — when the network made the sudden decision to cancel its biggest hit, “Roseanne,” after the show’s star, Roseanne Barr, sent a racist tweet....
Terrible journalistic style to say "a racist tweet" instead of something like "a tweet that many people decried as racist." Tell the facts. Also, was Dungey "thrust into the spotlight," or did she step into the spotlight? Who "thrust" her? I regard it as anti-feminist to portray women as lacking their own agency. She was an executive! If she didn't make decisions and act upon them, she didn't belong in her job. You can't have it both ways. Either she's a shy person who got thrust or she's a capable executive.

It would be so much better to tell the facts straight. Spinning everything, a newspaper trips all aver itself.

ADDED: Why did the Times call Dungey "publicity-shy"? Further down in the article, it says: "Ms. Dungey rarely strayed from talking points in gatherings with the news media...." Think of what the NYT might have written if it felt inclined to criticize Dungey. We're told her successor, Karey Burke, "has been freer in her public appearances" and given an example of something vivid and original that Burke said.

CBS Thanksgiving football humor: QB Alex Smith "broke his drumstick last week."

Smith badly broke his leg in a game — with the break and his suffering witnessed by the television audience. Is it all in good fun to talk about him in turkey terms? Lots of that's-not-funny criticism on social media, but I wonder if it's coming from people who like to watch football, which is a spectacle that entertains (in part) by showing us men daringly risking injury and courageously weathering pain. I'd like to know if Smith was asked how he felt about using his name in the promo and calling his leg a drumstick. Maybe he thought is was hilarious and was all for it. How do the men who actually play football do humor? I'm more interested in that than what some delicate homeviewers think. And yet, I'm sure CBS will want to soothe the sensibilities of its general audience as The Era of That's Not Funny toddles on.

What about the animal imagery? Was CBS trotting into Roseanne Barr territory by visualizing Alex Smith as an animal? Consider that the drumstick is what we routinely call the "dark meat." But Alex Smith is white. I don't think CBS would have used the joke if he were not.

Trump says he might close the border with Mexico — "The whole border. I mean the whole border."

"And Mexico will not be able to sell their cars into the United States where they make so many at great benefit to them — not a great benefit to us, by the way. But at least now we have a good new trade deal with Mexico and with Canada. But we will close the border. And that means that Mexico is not going to be able to sell their cars into the United States until it’s open. But we’re going to either have a border or we’re not. And when they lose control of the border on the Mexico side, we just close the border. And we have a very powerful border. We built a very strong border in a very short period of time. And the military has been fantastic, the job they have done.... You know, I’m the first president who’s done to this extent, but they wanted this for years. And some of the presidents, I guess they didn’t care or they wanted open borders. I don’t think they wanted open borders. Because most of them, if you go back to 2006, they all approved essentially a wall, a very powerful fence, which is pretty much the same thing. But in 2006, if you look, Obama, you look at Hillary Clinton, you look at Schumer, all of the people that are standing up protesting, they think it’s good for them politically. See, I think it’s bad for them politically. I think the fact that they’re weak on the border is very, very bad for them politically. But you know, I have only been a politician for three years so maybe they know better than me."

From the transcript at Grabien News (which also has video).

The God Pod.

The Herald reports:
A Muslim civil rights group filed a federal lawsuit Wednesday against a regional jail in Virginia, alleging that the jail has set up a Christians-only unit dubbed the “God Pod.”

The Council on American-Islamic Relations says officials at the Riverside Regional Jail have set aside a housing pod exclusively for Christian inmates who promise to live in accordance with the Bible. The group says the Christian pod violates the Constitution by favoring one religion over others.

The lawsuit accuses jail officials of discriminating against Muslim inmates and others by preventing them from participating in programs that teach their faith and excluding them from the housing unit, nicknamed the “God Pod” by inmates.

"The White Album’s working title was A Doll’s House, and it could be compared to a shambling mansion, with ballrooms, bedrooms..."

"... nurseries, cellars, and rooms full of junk that are rarely visited. It starts with a joke and ends with a lullaby. Between those two points, this omnivorous record takes bites out of folk, blues, rock’n’roll, ska, country, doo-wop, psychedelia, Tin Pan Alley, musique concrete and easy listening, while offering previsions of prog-rock and heavy metal. Happiness is a Warm Gun alone is three songs in one. Songwriting inspirations include a box of chocolates, a gun magazine, a Little Richard movie, Mia Farrow’s sister, monkey sex and, on the barbed wind-up Glass Onion, The Beatles’ own history. The White Album was the first major release to deploy incoherence as a deliberate artistic strategy. It contains space-fillers even though there’s no space that needs filling, and is sequenced in such a way as to accentuate its jumbling together of the archaic and the avant-garde, the meaningless and the profound, the generous and the toxic, the ragged and the luminous, the spiritual and the profane, the desperately moving and the too silly for words. Many of John Lennon’s cryptic contributions are an assault on rationality itself...."

From "Fifty years ago, The Beatles’ ninth album ‘made a fitting capstone for one of the most wildly eventful years of the 20th Century’ but remains as mysterious and elusive as Moby-Dick" by Dorian Lynskey (BBC).

The "white album" was titled "The Beatles" because The Beatles were breaking up, though we who bought the record at the time didn't know that. We were like guests at a dinner party given by a couple that has not yet announced they are divorcing. Looking back, we see the breakup in the event — the dinner party, the white album. But at the time, we thought these people are even more fascinating and exciting than we'd ever noticed before.

November 22, 2018

At the Thanksgiving Café...


... here.

(This is an open thread, so let me show you The Althouse Portal to Amazon.)

"I have for a long time believed that a person reveals at least as much when he reports what he cannot do or has never done."

"I become confused, or even distressed, whenever I find myself among streets or roads that are not arranged in a rectangular grid. ... I have watched few films during my lifetime and hardly any in recent years. ... I cannot recall having gone voluntarily into any art gallery or museum or building said to be of historic interest. I have never worn sunglasses. I have never learned to swim. I have never voluntarily immersed myself in any sea or stream. ... I have never touched any button or switch or working part of any computer or fax machine or mobile telephone. I have never learned to operate any sort of camera. ... In 1979 I taught myself to type using the index finger of my right hand alone. Since then, I have composed all my fiction and other writing using the finger just mentioned and one or another of my three manual typewriters."

Said Gerald Murnane, quoted in "Is the Next Nobel Laureate in Literature Tending Bar in a Dusty Australian Town?/With the publication of two new books, Gerald Murnane might finally find an American audience" (NYT).

I'm using my "nothing" tag to avoid needing to create a tag like "things not done."

This subject reminds me of a post I wrote in 2015, "Ten things I've never done." For the record, I have now done 3 of those things — one once, one twice, and one many times.

A Thanksgiving warning — "only bedlam, chaos, injury and death" — from Trump.

You might think he'd back off for a day, but no, the confrontation with Chief Justice Roberts rages on:

"If you're kind of scrounging around, you're looking for something to eat on Thanksgiving, check out Starbucks."

"They really have a pretty decent Thanksgiving sandwich there to check out."

"But politics should not be the determining factor in your life, high up on your emotional scale."

"You should realize that family always is more important. I always used to teach my kids growing up, when they’d have fights, I said, 'Just remember, when you really need somebody, the only one that’s going to be compelled to run toward you is your family, not your friends.'"

Said Maureen Dowd's brother Kevin, quoted in her column "Of Monuments, Arguments, Vampires and Thanksgiving/John Wayne, Brett Kavanaugh, my brothers Michael and Kevin, and me," which has lots of great material about her relationship with her 2 conservative brothers. She goes on a trip to Monument Valley with Kevin. The other brother, Michael, died in 2007, and if I'm reading correctly, she was estranged from him when he died. The column ends with Maureen and Kevin watching the Kavanaugh swearing-in:
When Kavanaugh thanked his “amazing and fearless” friends, including those from the “coaching” world and his “tightknit Catholic community here in the D.C. area,” I looked over. A tear was running down Kevin’s cheek.

And then I started to cry, too, because I was thinking of Michael and what was lost, and Kevin and what I hope won’t be lost. And because, more and more, it seems that Donald Trump’s genius for hate and division has driven us all into a canyon that we won’t easily be able to climb out of.

I worry that it will be a long time before we can talk across our jangly, angry chasms.
Don't indulge in the off-loading of your estrangement onto Donald Trump. There will always be political figures out there, setting us off, stirring up hostility and anxiety. Find the estrangement that originates in you, and take care of that. Just remember, when you really need somebody, the only one that’s going to be compelled to run toward you is your family....

Let's be thankful for shaming the Thanksgiving fat-shamer Sarah Michelle Gellar.

The actress apologized for this, which actually really is pretty awful:

As Breitbart (linked at the top of Drudge) put it:
The 41-year-old immediately buckled to the social media campaign against her, saying, “It’s come to my attention that some people think I was ‘fat shaming’ with this post. That could not be further from my intentions.”

“I love Thanksgiving and unfortunately my eyes are often bigger than my stomach, and I tend to eat so much I make myself sick. This was a joking reminder to myself not to do that,” she continued. “I’m terribly sorry that people were offended by my attempt at humor. Any one that knows me, knows I would never intentionally ‘shame’ any one on any basis. I am a champion of all people.”
I don't know if I'd use the expression "fat-shaming." But it is the sort of photograph that anorexia enthusiasts call "thinspiration." Ah, yes, here's US Weekly, "Sarah Michelle Gellar ‘Terribly Sorry’ for Offending Instagram Users With Thanksgiving ‘Thinspiration’":
“Buffy, please don’t promote diet culture. Not the kind of message we should be sending,” one [Instagram user] wrote. “Usually love your posts but I’m seriously against ‘thinspiration.’ It’s a core of most eating disorders.”
But, we're told, Gellar also "garnered praise" from some celebrities who said they might "pin the photos at her house, too." In other words, there is demand for thinspiration pictures. Twitter allows the #thinspiration hashtag. Here's what it brings to the top of the page right now:

That's a screenshot. I won't link. And I don't believe that Twitter user, even with that name, is critiquing anorexia.

I should be clear about what I personally find awful about Gellar's photo and caption. She just doesn't look happy. She looks like someone who's trying to look good for somebody else and is getting no pleasure from it herself. And she's wearing "pleasure" clothes. But she's wearing them for somebody else, not herself, apparently. It's sad. The expression on her face reminds me of Bender in "Breakfast Club." That's not joy, though she's at her rock-bottom low weight.

What did Viggo Mortenson say?

I'm trying to understand the Variety article "Will Viggo Mortensen’s Racial Slur Doom His Oscar Chances?"
The controversy over Viggo Mortensen’s use of the N-word during a recent Q&A for his movie “Green Book” appears to be over, but can he and the film recover enough to emerge as a genuine awards contender?
Use? Do they mean mention*?
“I was attempting to make the point that the extreme, dehumanizing ugliness that this word conjures, the hateful attitude behind it, has not disappeared just because white people generally no longer use it as a racist insult,” he wrote in a statement released after shocked tweets from the screening surfaced online.
It sounds as though, while talking about the way other people have used the word, he actually vocalized the syllables. That's inadvisable these days, but nothing like actually hurling the epithet. I think the article ought to quote what he said and not force me to look it up.
Using racially charged language and particularly that slur has become a definitive line that, once crossed, is nearly impossible to come back from. Two top executives, Jonathan Friedland from Netflix and Amy Powell of Paramount Pictures, have been fired in the past five months for reportedly using the slur in the same manner as Mortensen — demonstratively, while discussing hate speech in the presence of people of color.
What a scary, repressive place Hollywood is! Such weak, craven people. Who cares what they choose to give awards to?
“The people that work with Viggo actually like him a lot, but he knows better. He’s been around long enough. He was obviously trying to make a statement in a conversation and it’s hard in this charged atmosphere to say what is forgivable and what is not,” one veteran film executive who is also an Oscar voter told Variety...
“I wouldn’t say at this point his chances [of winning the best actor Oscar] are hurt, because of how fast this went away, but don’t forget that the demographic within the Academy has changed, and is changing,” the executive said, referring to the record-breaking diversity among the 928 people invited to join the film academy this year....
Hollywood strains to deal with its longterm racial problems, and one of its remedies, enlarging the Academy, requires new efforts to imagine what might please those new members.
[T]he core lessons of the film ["Green Book"] are failing to resonate with some critics, who believe the film is tone deaf about the racial prejudices it seeks to illuminate and treats the historical mistreatment of black Americans with a glibness that’s inappropriate, finding humor where there is none.
Finding humor where there is none.... In the Era of That's Not Funny, not only is your humor not funny, no humor could be funny. You didn't just fail to find humor. There is no humor to find. But I think it's funny that Hollywood is trying so hard to make movies on racial themes and simultaneously making it harder to do it just the right way and submitting its erstwhile art form to the judgment of people who are presumed to be predisposed to say that they are not doing it right.

Let me look up what Mortenson said. In a question and answer session after the screening of the movie, on the subject of racial progress, he said "For instance, no one says [the word] anymore."

Please don't write out the word in the comments. Humor me.

In the Era of That's Not Funny, that's the only humor we have — humoring people.


* The "use-mention distinction."

November 21, 2018

At the Getting-Ready-For-Thanksgiving Café...


... there you go.

I don't know what you're eating but you can buy Epic Turkey bars here and you can buy almost anything else you need at Amazon through The Althouse Portal.

This is an open thread — of course, with "Café" in the title — so talk about anything you want. I'm bored with the subject of Thanksgiving. Please don't imagine the topic to be restricted to the most talked-out topic of the week.

"Sorry Chief Justice John Roberts, but you do indeed have 'Obama judges,' and they have a much different point of view than the people who are charged with the safety of our country."

"It would be great if the 9th Circuit was indeed an 'independent judiciary,' but if it is why...... .....are so many opposing view (on Border and Safety) cases filed there, and why are a vast number of those cases overturned. Please study the numbers, they are shocking. We need protection and security - these rulings are making our country unsafe! Very dangerous and unwise!"

Trump tweets (1, 2).

Backstory: John Roberts said,"We do not have Obama judges or Trump judges, Bush judges or Clinton judges. What we have is an extraordinary group of dedicated judges doing their level best to do equal right to those appearing before them. That independent judiciary is something we should all be thankful for." That was in response to Trump's saying that the most recent judicial rebuff to one of his immigration policies came from an "Obama Judge."

ADDED: I was going to say Trump played Roberts into amplifying Trump's message, but I think it would be more accurate to say Trump, with an assist from Roberts, played the liberal media into amplifying the conservative message. It looks as though Trump and Roberts are on opposite sides, but they are not.

"What the socialist Kama Sutra tells us about sex behind the Iron Curtain/The story behind the Eastern bloc’s most popular socialist sex manual."

By Kristen R. Ghodsee (in WaPo).
So what was the appeal of the book [“Man and Woman Intimately” by the psychologist and family counselor Sigfried Schnabl], other than the obvious? For the author, it was about solving social and psychological problems. In his introduction, Schnabl explained that unhappiness in the bedroom could lead “to the development of inferiority complexes, depressions, [and] nervous complaints …” He viewed his work as a public service, explaining that a satisfying sex life must “become a reality for every citizen of our country” and that this task was “a challenge for those who are called upon to help others with their professional training and science.”...

Reflecting on why the Politburo allowed his book to be printed so widely, Schnabl suggested, “When people are happy with each other and in bed, they don’t come up with dumb political thoughts.” He speculated that sex was a cheap way for the Politburo to keep the masses placated.

Communist leaders perhaps also hoped that an officially approved sex manual would quash the black market for smuggled Western erotica.... In the Bulgarian version of “Man and Woman Intimately,” an awkward preface by the director of the Institute for Health Education explains that the government published the book because it had a duty to “socially model” appropriate sexual behaviors lest the youth collect “incompetent information” through “illegal channels.”...

"An American man was killed on an island inhabited by a tribe known to resist outside contact in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. And, his body still lies there."

India Today reports.
The American was identified as 27-year-old John Allen Chau, who sources said was a Christian missionary who wanted to convert the Sentinelese tribe that inhabits the island where he was killed.... The Sentinelese is a sensitive tribe living in that area for 60,000 years....

"[Chau] was attacked by arrows but he continued walking," news agency AFP reported, quoting sources. Local fishermen also saw the Sentinelese tying Chu's body to a rope and dragged it along the ground.... The North Sentinel Island, where Chau's body is still lying, is home to the Sentinelese, an indigenous tribe that furiously rejects outside contact. The Indian law protects the Sentinelese people, whose number is estimated to be under 50....

They cannot be prosecuted and any contact with them or entry into areas inhabited by them is illegal....
There have been 7 arrests for murder, but those arrested are not Sentinelese, but "local fishermen who allegedly helped Chau reach the North Sentinel Island." It's interesting from a legal standpoint that the fishermen can be accused of murder for getting the victim close to the people whose direct action, killing him, is not considered murder. Or perhaps it is murder but: 1. The Sentinelese are immune from prosecution, 2. It would violate due process to prosecute them, or 3. There's no legal way to approach them to arrest them.

This makes me think of the case of Chief Oshkosh of the Menominees and a movie that made a big impact on me when I was young, "Dingaka" (blogged here).

Pew locates where Americans find meaning.

"Economic, religious and political divides shape where Americans find meaning – but family, career and friendship emerge as common theme."

This graphic summarizes a lot:
Hey, what about travel?!
Travel is... mentioned more frequently by those with high household incomes, as well as those with college degrees – 11% in both groups bring up traveling, exploring new places, or going on vacation, compared with 3% of those with no college experience or incomes under $30,000. As one low-income college-educated respondent put it, “I travel to see friends and family. I live in a beautiful country where I can see, hear and appreciate God’s creation.” On the other hand, one high-income person with no college experience echoed similar sentiments: “Traveling and seeing things I have never seen, enjoying simple things like the outdoors and warm weather.”
And what about engagement with politics and social justice issues? What about charity and helping humanity? It's interesting to see "music" on the chart, but what about the other arts — theater, film, painting?

That question made me think of this Jordan Peterson video. Answering the question of how to find meaning in life, he goes right to the subject of music:

And just very quickly, Donald Trump (talking to "Ali G") knew the answer:

"A cochlear implant isn’t inherently bad, but it isn’t inherently good, either; it is a neutral piece of technology, a tool, like a hammer."

"Expecting an implant to cure deafness or magically generate speech is to await the moment the hammer will fly out of one’s hand and build a house on its own. The value of the tool lies only in the skill of its user, and for the cochlear implant user, that skill is learned with much effort. To suggest otherwise is to give a disingenuous prognosis to potential patients and their parents, and discounts the hard work successful C.I. users do to communicate in a way the hearing world deems acceptable."

From "A Clearer Message on Cochlear Implants/Portrayals of this technology as a 'miracle' for deaf people overlook its potential downsides and challenges" (NYT) by Sara Novic, an assistant professor of creative writing who is deaf and chooses not to have a cochlear implant, because — as she explains to her students — "I’m happy with how I am now" or...
I explain that deafness offers me a unique perspective on the world, or joke that I like it quiet when I’m writing, but I always end with a fact: “It would be a big commitment — learning to use a cochlear implant takes a lot of work.”

"America First!/The world is a very dangerous place!" — so begins Trump's "Statement... on Standing with Saudi Arabia."

At the White House website.
The country of Iran, as an example, is responsible for a bloody proxy war against Saudi Arabia in Yemen, trying to destabilize Iraq’s fragile attempt at democracy, supporting the terror group Hezbollah in Lebanon, propping up dictator Bashar Assad in Syria (who has killed millions of his own citizens), and much more. Likewise, the Iranians have killed many Americans and other innocent people throughout the Middle East. Iran states openly, and with great force, “Death to America!” and “Death to Israel!” Iran is considered “the world’s leading sponsor of terror.”

On the other hand, Saudi Arabia would gladly withdraw from Yemen if the Iranians would agree to leave. They would immediately provide desperately needed humanitarian assistance. Additionally, Saudi Arabia has agreed to spend billions of dollars in leading the fight against Radical Islamic Terrorism.

After my heavily negotiated trip to Saudi Arabia last year, the Kingdom agreed to spend and invest $450 billion in the United States. This is a record amount of money. It will create hundreds of thousands of jobs, tremendous economic development, and much additional wealth for the United States. Of the $450 billion, $110 billion will be spent on the purchase of military equipment from Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Raytheon and many other great U.S. defense contractors. If we foolishly cancel these contracts, Russia and China would be the enormous beneficiaries – and very happy to acquire all of this newfound business. It would be a wonderful gift to them directly from the United States!

The crime against Jamal Khashoggi was a terrible one, and one that our country does not condone. Indeed, we have taken strong action against those already known to have participated in the murder. After great independent research, we now know many details of this horrible crime. We have already sanctioned 17 Saudis known to have been involved in the murder of Mr. Khashoggi, and the disposal of his body.

Representatives of Saudi Arabia say that Jamal Khashoggi was an “enemy of the state” and a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, but my decision is in no way based on that – this is an unacceptable and horrible crime. King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman vigorously deny any knowledge of the planning or execution of the murder of Mr. Khashoggi. Our intelligence agencies continue to assess all information, but it could very well be that the Crown Prince had knowledge of this tragic event – maybe he did and maybe he didn’t!

That being said, we may never know all of the facts surrounding the murder of Mr. Jamal Khashoggi. In any case, our relationship is with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. They have been a great ally in our very important fight against Iran. The United States intends to remain a steadfast partner of Saudi Arabia to ensure the interests of our country, Israel and all other partners in the region. It is our paramount goal to fully eliminate the threat of terrorism throughout the world!

I understand there are members of Congress who, for political or other reasons, would like to go in a different direction – and they are free to do so. I will consider whatever ideas are presented to me, but only if they are consistent with the absolute security and safety of America. After the United States, Saudi Arabia is the largest oil producing nation in the world. They have worked closely with us and have been very responsive to my requests to keeping oil prices at reasonable levels – so important for the world. As President of the United States I intend to ensure that, in a very dangerous world, America is pursuing its national interests and vigorously contesting countries that wish to do us harm. Very simply it is called America First!
Here's "Trump’s Statement on Saudi Arabia, Explained!/The president makes the case for the crown prince: Iran, arms sales and oil" by Julian Barnes in the NYT:
President Trump released an exclamation-point-filled statement on Tuesday about the assassination of the Saudi dissident Jamal Khashoggi.... The statement is a fascinating journey into the mind of the president. Mr. Trump, when he is not obfuscating, is sometimes startlingly transparent about why he makes decisions....
Actually, the NYT analysis is not as enlightening as I had hoped. I don't understand how Barnes thinks he's seeing a "startlingly transparent" view of Trump's decisionmaking process. I don't see Trump's statement as a revelation of what he's really thinking about. I would guess it's much more devious — an attempt to control and manipulate Saudi Arabia.

I think Scott Adams has a much better grip on what's really going on, but maybe Adams is more startlingly transparent than Barnes:

"President Trump told the White House counsel in the spring that he wanted to order the Justice Department to prosecute two of his political adversaries..."

"... his 2016 challenger, Hillary Clinton, and the former F.B.I. director James B. Comey, according to two people familiar with the conversation. The lawyer, Donald F. McGahn II, rebuffed the president, saying that he had no authority to order a prosecution. Mr. McGahn said that while he could request an investigation, that too could prompt accusations of abuse of power. To underscore his point, Mr. McGahn had White House lawyers write a memo for Mr. Trump warning that if he asked law enforcement to investigate his rivals, he could face a range of consequences, including possible impeachment.... It is unclear whether Mr. Trump read Mr. McGahn’s memo or whether he pursued the prosecutions further. But the president has continued to privately discuss the matter, including the possible appointment of a second special counsel to investigate both Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Comey, according to two people who have spoken to Mr. Trump about the issue.... For decades, White House aides have routinely sought to shield presidents from decisions related to criminal cases or even from talking about them publicly. Presidential meddling could undermine the legitimacy of prosecutions by attaching political overtones to investigations in which career law enforcement officials followed the evidence and the law.... 'I look at what’s happening with the Justice Department,” [Trump] said in a radio interview a year ago. 'Well, why aren’t they going after Hillary Clinton and her emails and with her, the dossier?... I am not supposed to be doing the kind of things that I would love to be doing. And I am very frustrated.'"

The NYT reports.

"I am not supposed to be doing the kind of things that I would love to be doing" — Oh, he is doing the thing he loves to be doing. He's talking — talking about what he'd love to do but they won't let him do. And that's doing something. The NYT would have to show me a lot more to get me to think Trump isn't doing just what he wants — saying loudly that Clinton and Comey should be prosecuted but doing nothing to get them prosecuted. It's like the way he rails against Mueller but does nothing to get rid of Mueller. My assumption is he does what he wants and what he wants is to talk about it, not actually to do the things he talks about wanting to do. The doing is complete in the talking.

November 20, 2018

At the Tuesday Night Café...

... you can talk all night.

Obama looks and sounds weirdly woozy.

That is just very strange!

According to The Daily Mail, Obama — speaking at "the Obama Foundation summit at the Mariott Marquis hotel in Chicago — said the world "badly needs remaking" and "'What prevents us from implementing most of the things that we would probably collectively agree would make the world better is not the absence of technological solutions, it's because there are humans involved and that the dynamics of the society" but — as you hear in that video — "the reason we don't do it is because we are still confused, blind, shrouded with hate, anger, racism, mommy issues."

The Daily Mail assumes Obama was specifically talking about Trump and attempts to delve into Trump's possible "mommy issues." I think Obama might be talking more generally about the problem of the human psyche. "Mommy issues" came last on a list he constructed on the spot, so I think it was just one more idea about things that complicate human psychology. But I think the author of "Dreams From My Father" has at least as many "mommy issues" as the next guy.

"I was pleased — really totally surprised and flattered — to learn that Lewinsky had given the president her very own copy of my book."

"She was saying, I’m passing on my extremely personal page-turning experience to you. But the subpoena was just bad. Vox is a conversation between two people who are excited by the idea that they get to tell their private stories to each other. They get to tell stories and to be real to each other even while they have this artificial distance — they’re connected just by the phone. The book is trying to celebrate the secret hideouts that novels offer readers. And I love that about books. That kind of privacy ought to be respected."

Said Nicholson Baker, quoted in "The Clinton Impeachment, as Told by the People Who Lived It/Twenty years ago, Bill Clinton became the first president to be impeached since Andrew Johnson, in 1868. We offer a recounting by people who played a role" (The Atlantic). The subpoena Baker mentions was from the independent counsel Kenneth Starr to Kramerbooks, seeking a list of the books bought by Monica Lewinsky, one of which was Nicholson Baker’s Vox, which Monica Lewinsky was said to have read and then given to Bill Clinton.

The reason I'm focusing on that quote is that it's a long article, and I chose to find my way into it by searching the page for the word "love." I'm still interested in the question whether Monica Lewinsky loved Bill Clinton, whether he loved her, and whether they loved each other. I was watching a TV special last night about the Lewinsky affair — Monica looked beautiful (in the present) — and I still after all these years imagine real love. The only appearance of the word "love" in that Atlantic article is what you see quoted above — nothing about a human being loving another person but a novelist saying what he loves about books.

ADDED: Here's a clip from the documentary I saw. You can judge for yourself whether Monica Lewinsky is stunningly beautiful 20 years after her 2-year affair with Bill Clinton:

I believe Bill Clinton loved her and that he watched this show and felt deep pangs of loss of her love and her company these past 20 years. I'm not saying he's a good person. I'm just observing the fact of the sheer magnetism of Monica Lewinsky. I wish Bill Clinton had simply resigned and walked away from the presidency — given it all up for love. I think she deserved it, she whose youth he appropriated, she who really did love him.

The art of the Starbucks cup.

Lots more like that...

... at the Instagram account of Soo Min Kim.

"As firefighters keep battling the blazes, a new menace is emerging: debris flows. The rains are coming to California..."

"... as soon as Tuesday night, and the fires have primed the soil for another disaster that can claim yet more lives.... The problem is a fundamental change to the soil itself. When a wildfire burns vegetation, it releases organic compounds.... This soil normally absorbs water, but the organic compounds turn it hydrophobic, literally meaning 'fear of water.' It is not an understatement: You can pour a bottle of water on this burned soil and it’ll bead right off, as if the dirt were polished marble... Problem number two: vegetation anchors the soil.... The debris flow can carry boulders and trees along with mud, making it more dangerous than a regular flood or a dry landslide.... Boulders can also act like a moving dam, retarding the flow..... If you haven’t cleared out in time and the flow comes, the recommendation is to shelter in place—moving to the upper story of your house, for instance. Out on the streets is exactly where you don't want to be, as the flow follows those paths...."

From "California Fire Survivors Brace for Debris-Filled Mudslides" (Wired).

"My in-laws hated me. We invited them over for thanksgiving dinner and, upon arrival, they asked me to leave and come back a few hours later..."

"... because they wanted to 'follow their tradition of preparing the meal alone as a family.' They are now my ex-in-laws."

From "What's the rudest thing a guest has ever done in your home?" (AskReddit).

"Only good thing is I started to paint — I use house paint mixed with glue. I use brush and fingertip both..."

"... in a few years I can be topflight painter if I want — maybe then I can sell paintings and buy a piano and compose music too — for life is a bore."

Wrote Jack Kerouac (to Allen Ginsberg in 1956), quoted in "All of Life Is Creation: Jack Kerouac’s Art."

"Nothing would have been worse than a midterm result vindicating President Trump’s first two years in office."

"It’s particularly nice to see Vladimir Putin’s favorite Republican member of the House, Dana Rohrabacher of California, voted out of office."

Says Bret Stephens, one of the the NYT's conservative columnists, quoted in "For a Second There, We Stopped Talking About Trump/What else does the Democrats’ new House majority portend?," which is a conversation between him and the liberal NYT columnist Gail Collins, who responds, "This is the world Trump has made: Bret Stephens sitting in front of the TV cheering whenever a Republican goes down."

There's also this from Collins: "You know that I’ve always had a thing about how the country’s divided between empty places and crowded places. It’s partly based on a perfectly rational assessment of needs. But it’s also partly based on a longstanding distrust that Trump has made truly poisonous. Kind of scary."

I think that means the people who don't choose to crowd together in urban areas are wary, suspicious creatures, and Trump figured out how to activate them by playing upon the character flaws and neuroses that were the reason they were living out there in the first place.

"Facebook tanking."

"The social media giant's shares fell more than 5 percent after The Wall Street Journal reported that CEO Mark Zuckerberg blamed second-in-command Sheryl Sandberg for the Cambridge Analytica scandal and its subsequent fallout. The WSJ's report adds more fuel to criticism of Facebook's handling of the scandal and whether the two top executives have been too slow to change its platform. The New York Times detailed last week how the company ignored and then tried to hide that Russia used the platform to disrupt the U.S. election in 2016."

CNBC reports.

"Isn’t it beautiful?"

On the occasion of the 50th anniversary of "The Beatles" — the white album — Roger Friedman reprints what Prudence Farrow wrote about the song "Dear Prudence." (Here's Farrow's memoir, "Dear Prudence," which Friedman says is free on Kindle, but you have to pay $10 if you don't pay for Kindle Unlimited.) I'll just give you one paragraph.
My mother [the actress, Maureen O'Sullivan] bought what became widely known as “The White Album” as soon as it was released in the fall of 1968. She introduced it to me in a most odd way. During a family gathering at her apartment, we were playing Killer, a whodunit game. The “killer” kills by winking at you, then you wait fifteen seconds before announcing you have been killed. My mother went around the room, showing the album while playing it on the record player. I listened to “Dear Prudence” with great apprehension. As each line finished, I wiped my brow with relief. As the song ended, I felt immense gratitude that it was not as I had feared. Just then, my mother came over to me, and leaning in, she gently said, “Isn’t it beautiful?” I looked up at her, and she winked.
Here's Maureen O'Sullivan talking to David Letterman in 1986. She talks about Groucho Marx, who tested jokes on her until she said "I really hate funny men. I will never laugh... So don't tell me any more jokes... I like humor to come out of something else — but no gags." She — who played Jane in the Tarzan movies — then proceeds to tell us about Cheetah — a "horrible creature" and "a homosexual."

ADDED: I'm adding my "animal cruelty" tag. O'Sullivan and Letterman and the audience laugh and laugh over what is the mistreatment of the chimpanzee used in the Tarzan movies.

November 19, 2018

At the Hot Pepper Café...


... say what you like.

"The White House Correspondents’ Association announced on Monday that for the first time in 15 years, no comedian would crack jokes at its annual black-tie dinner in April."

"Instead, Ron Chernow, the historian and biographer of Alexander Hamilton and John Rockefeller, will speak on the First Amendment. The dinner, intended to commemorate comity between the president and his press corps, has come under immense pressure in the age of 'fake news,' and President Trump has declined to attend two years running. This year’s performer, the comedian Michelle Wolf, outraged the Washington crowd with her off-color jokes about members of the administration. Mr. Trump, for his part, declared the dinner 'DEAD as we know it.'"

The NYT reports.

This one certainly gets my Era of That's Not Funny tag.

"Dick Cheney was the safe-cracker, the professional you brought in who knew all the ins and outs of our government. He was the ultimate gamesman. With Trump..."

"... the front door to the White House is wide open. There's deer and dogs and hyenas running around. And this guy is like an orangutan just throwing shit around. But Cheney was the grand master who finished the deal. Donald Trump has no belief system. So I would take the hyenas, the random wild animals running through the White House over Cheney any day of the week. If Cheney had stayed in office — let's say we didn't have term limits, and he was able to go another four, eight years — they would have invaded Iran."

Said Adam McKay, quoted in "The Dick Cheney Dossier: Inside Adam McKay’s Searing Exposé of D.C.'s 'Ultimate Gamesman' in 'Vice'" (Hollywood Reporter).

"There's Swedish death cleaning and there's Finnish forest raking."

Said Meade, as I was reading "Trump Says Finland Prevents Wildfires by 'Raking' Forests. Finland Isn't Sure What He's Talking About" (Fortune).
“You’ve got to take care of the floors. You know the floors of the forests, it’s very important,” Trump said amid the ruins of the town of Paradise, which was entirely razed by the Camp Fire. He added that President Sauli Niinisto of the “forest nation” of Finland told him “they spent a lot of time on raking and cleaning and doing things, and they don’t have any problem.”...
(For a post about Swedish death cleaning, go here.)

Trump is getting mocked for using the word "rake," but I'm thinking it's not rake rake. (I'm deploying a Whoopi Goldberg style locution.) Everyone seems to be acting as though they don't know what Trump was talking about, and the image of lots of Finns with rakes out in the forest is silly. It made me think of "The Walrus and the Carpenter":
The Walrus and the Carpenter
Were walking close at hand;
They wept like anything to see
Such quantities of sand:
"If this were only cleared away,"
They said, "it would be grand!"
"If seven maids with seven mops
Swept it for half a year.
Do you suppose," the Walrus said,
"That they could get it clear?"
"I doubt it," said the Carpenter,
And shed a bitter tear.
If seven Finns with seven rakes raked the forest for half a year, do you suppose, the Trumpster said, that they could get it clear?

But if anyone is inclined to give Trump a sympathetic reading, consider that "raking" is simply a description of gathering underbrush together for removal, which might be done with some larger-scale equipment than the leaf rake that springs to mind. I googled for a few seconds and learned that there's something called a ratchet rake that attaches to a tractor.

Laughing at Trump and picturing Finns with rakes in the forest is a distraction from the real question of whether the Finns have anything to teach us about resisting and controlling forest fires. Trump said they're "raking and cleaning and doing things." What things? According to the Fortune article, what's working in Finland is "the country’s extensive forest road network—which helps firefighters move quickly and also slows down fires—and the fact that so much of the Finnish forest is privately owned. That means many small sections of the forest are cleared or thinned out, and therefore don’t easily let fires spread. Finland is also full of rivers, lakes and wetlands."

How are the small sections cleared or thinned out? Maybe it looks something like this.

ADDED: WaPo put up a piece titled "Trump suggests Californians can rake their forests to prevent wildfires. (He is wrong.)" Then it added this update:
Since this article originally published, some have suggested that Trump had in mind a more esoteric form of raking, such as perhaps an excavator rake; or a McLeod tool (a.k.a. a “fire rake”); or the 19th century European practice of removing organic topsoil known as “litter raking;" or — as a reader put it in a profanity-laced email to The Washington Post — “He didn’t mean literally raking with a rake, like some guy with a little rake from Home Depot, it’s a term meaning to clear underbrush and rotted forest floors with control burns which California does not do.”

The White House has not responded to a request for clarification on what Trump meant by “raking," so the above possibilities cannot be totally discounted.

However, it’s worth pointing out that when the president spoke of watching firemen rake beneath a little nut tree, he moved his hands back and forth as if he were miming a garden rake.
They love writing "He is wrong," but they hate saying "We were wrong."

"I was told [the sex recession] might be a consequence of the hookup culture, of crushing economic pressures, of surging anxiety rates, of psychological frailty..."

"... of widespread antidepressant use, of streaming television, of environmental estrogens leaked by plastics, of dropping testosterone levels, of digital porn, of the vibrator’s golden age, of dating apps, of option paralysis, of helicopter parents, of careerism, of smartphones, of the news cycle, of information overload generally, of sleep deprivation, of obesity. Name a modern blight, and someone, somewhere, is ready to blame it for messing with the modern libido.... [R]ates of childhood sexual abuse have decreased in recent decades, and abuse can lead to both precocious and promiscuous sexual behavior. And some people today may feel less pressured into sex they don’t want to have, thanks to changing gender mores and growing awareness of diverse sexual orientations, including asexuality. Maybe more people are prioritizing school or work over love and sex, at least for a time, or maybe they’re simply being extra deliberate in choosing a life partner—and if so, good for them.... [In Japan] many younger people see the very idea of intercourse as mendokusai—tiresome.... Among Japan’s more popular recent innovations... is 'a single-use silicone egg that men fill with lubricant and masturbate inside.'... The internet has made it so easy to gratify basic social and sexual needs that there’s far less incentive to go out into the 'meatworld' and chase those things.... [H]owever 'digitally nonchalant' Millennials might seem... 'they’re prudish in person.'..."

Excerpts from the long article in The Atlantic, "Why Are Young People Having So Little Sex?/Despite the easing of taboos and the rise of hookup apps, Americans are in the midst of a sex recession," by Kate Julian. I'm seeing a lot of links to this article, mostly by older-than-millennial people who are just saying things like this is depressing. There is so much detail to this article. So many ideas to discuss. Let's talk about it. Don't be shallow!

"Chani Nicholas doesn’t care for the hulking Alex Katz painting, depicting a trio of suited white men, hanging behind the front desk of the Langham hotel in New York. It reminds her of the patriarchy..."

"... she tells me one rainy, starless night in February, as we take the elevator up to her hotel suite and sit on the couch. We’re wrapping up a conversation about privilege, gender equality and the zodiac when Nicholas, who’s become popular on Instagram as a kind of social-justice astrologer, notices a different art piece hovering behind her. This one, she likes. The painting, titled 'Mona,' portrays a woman who shares a striking resemblance to Nicholas – dark hair with tight curls, sharp brown eyes, a strong jawline. She compares it to the painting in the lobby. 'The hotel staff must’ve known not to put me in a room with a bunch of weird guys on the wall,' she says. 'I’m basically an angry feminist who just happens to be into astrology and healing.'"

So begins "Meet the Woman Bringing Social Justice to Astrology/Chani Nicholas is transforming horoscopes from quips about finding true love and stumbling into financial good fortune to pointed calls to action" (Rolling Stone)(via my son John at Facebook).

If you get far enough into that article, you'll see some material about a technology and culture reporter at The New York Times, Jenna Wortham:
“I think the Internet is really good at helping like-minded individuals find each other and affirm each other,” she says. “I know a lot of people in my life who don’t give a shit about astrology and think that my interest in star signs is ludacris [sic] and laughable, but I don’t have to talk to them,” she says....

Wortham thinks that the millennial interest in astrology has to do with the correction of an imbalance, in which people are looking at their relationship to technology and finding it, at least to a degree, unnatural. Because social media and the Internet require people to externalize so much of their lives, people are looking for ways to be more introspective, she says. “In the same way that we’re like, ‘What’s the quality of the food that we’re eating? We’re now like, ‘How are we living? Is there a better way to live?'”

Last year, Wortham went through a difficult breakup and decided to switch neighborhoods in Brooklyn.... “I took Chani’s advice, and I made [something] happen,” says Wortham.... “When I think back on it, I don’t think it would’ve been as easy for me to manage all the influxes of opportunity had my house not been in order.” Nicholas’s guidance, Wortham says, helped her affirm whether she was doing the right thing. “It’s cool feeling like there’s something correlating in the cosmos and on the earth,” she says.
I wonder what the NYT's idea of reporting on "technology and culture" really is. Is it articles on technology designed to draw in people who wouldn't normally read about technology? I went over to the NYT and found this video about astrology:

I had to shut that off because I felt a strong and physical revulsion to the visual style. It didn't remind me of the patriarchy or anything like that. It just made me feel like a very annoying robot had the delusion that he could amuse me and intended to relentlessly act on that delusion. I had my own delusion — that I would have a seizure if I didn't shut it off.

ADDED: Jenna Wortham's new article in the NYT Magazine is "On Instagram, Seeing Between the (Gender) Lines/Social Media Has Turned Out to Be the Perfect Tool For Nonbinary People to Find — and Model — Their Unique Places on the Gender Spectrum." Excerpt:
Personally, Vaid-Menon doesn’t identify as any gender. “Nonbinary is so oxymoronic,” Vaid-Menon told me. “We’re defining ourselves by an absence and not our abundance.” When pressed, they will describe themselves as transfeminine, gender-nonconforming and nonbinary — but only reluctantly. “I really try to escape having to put myself in these categories,” Vaid-Menon said. “I wanted to be free from boxes — not end up in a new one.” Social media is one of the few outlets for that uninhibited expression.
AND here's the Alex Katz painting at the Langham Hotel:

Significantly less evocative of the patriarchy than the Rolling Stone made it sound! The "trio of suited white men" is next to a trio of women. And the men aren't wearing suits. White Man #1 has a turtleneck under his jacket. White Man #2 doesn't seem to have a jacket. And White Man #3 has his shirt collar gaping open in a way that suggests he's not wearing a tie. All 6 adults are staring in the direction of a bright light source and all but the one man in prescription glasses are wearing sunglasses, so they're not in an office environment. Where are they? The background is dark, so it's a confusing setting, but there's no reason to think they're in a position to exercise patriarchal power. They're out for some kind of fun. And the women are in front of the men.